Thursday, February 28, 2013

Drab to Fab - Julie Pollitt's Yard

Julie Pollitt

I've seen Julie and John Pollitt's yard, and it is the jewel of their neighborhood! Great job, John (Julie's husband)! I think the Bloomfield Garden Club would unanimously agree to give you the "Yard of the Month" award!

Here's what Julie has to say:

I’ve never had much of a green thumb. Thankfully, I married a great guy with the knack for gardening and landscaping. He turned our bland yard into the neighborhood beauty.
Backyard - after
Backyard - before

We went years without a stitch of grass. We’d send our kids out into the dirt abyss, forcing them to make a trip to the bath each time they came back in the house. I’ve learned in my few short years of living in Florida we’re on one large sand pile.

A couple years ago, my husband John, and his nephew Matt, added a gorgeous layer of sod to the yard, turning it into a carpet of lush, green happiness. John went the extra mile and added a large variety of low-maintenance shrubs and flowers. Although several of the plants were sold as annuals, I was surprised to see them bloom again this year.

Before planting, he mapped out the yard and created a garden area in front of the house, tilled the soil and planted the flora, finishing it off with a layer of mulch. Some of the plants include:
  • Vincas
  • Pentas
  • Variegated Snow Queens
  • Crepe Myrtles 

John asked me to find a couple of planters to place by the front door and add flowers, giving the outside entryway a pop. With an occasional watering, they stay happy in their pots.
He added a bushel of Mexican Petunias around the mailbox, and with bi-annual pruning, they thicken and grow. A Red Bird of Paradise sits a few feet away, which requires almost no maintenance. The deep red pod bursts open to reveal a vibrant yellowish, orange flower that stands out in any garden. It’s so beautiful that I get requests for the seeds each year.
With a little planning and a bit of care, John created a masterpiece that turns heads and slows down cars.

Visit Julie at her website: Julie Pollitt.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cherie Burbach's (Lack of) Gardening Skills

Cherie Burbach and her pooch
My friend Cherie Burbach was kind enough to let us in on a little secret about her gardening skills. She claims that she doesn't have any. We still love you, Cherie, but you're right. You might need a few tips from one of the Bloomfield Garden Club members.

Here's what Cherie has to say:

My granny had such a green thumb that people would give her their plants in order to have them revived back to health. I couldn't be more opposite. They say we all have gifts, and gardening certainly isn't mine.
Exhibit A:

These were once marigolds, which I'm told are the easiest things to grow. Ha! They certainly weren't for me. (But do you love how I stuck a pink metal flamingo in the pot and tiny flag to make it seem like there was still color and life in those pots?)
I do, however, love flowers, and even though I can't grow them myself I've come up with a solution.

If you're a member of the Bloomfield Garden Club, you might want to look away for the shame, because every single one of those plants is fake. I got them at Goodwill. But at least I got a good deal! And look how realistic they look! So what if instead of smelling like roses they wreak of mustiness?
In other words. I need gardening help!

I think Naomi might want to get her hands on your garden, Cherie, but this looks like a job for the garden club president Pamela!

Visit Cherie: CherieBlogs
Her Guide site at

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Want Fresh? Valerie Comer Shows You How!

Valerie Comer
My friend Valerie Comer is known for her organic gardening and canning, so when I asked her to write something, she didn't hesitate to share some tips that can help anyone. Enjoy!

Here's what Valerie has to say:

I've had a vegetable garden nearly every year for over three decades. There's just something I crave about fresh herbs, mixed greens, snap peas, and tomatoes. We live on a farm so there is plenty of room to grow whatever strikes our fancy, but I know not everyone is so lucky. Still, everyone with a desire to can grow something.

Live in an apartment? If you have a balcony, you can add hanging baskets with mini tomatoes. Rail-hung baskets are perfect for lettuce, spinach, or herbs. Several planters, set on the deck, can hold eggplants or peppers. You might even be able to coax a few pole beans to climb twine stretched from the roof above. If you don't have a balcony, many herbs grow well in pots on your windowsill. Rosemary, basil, and parsley are easy for beginners.

Have a small patch of yard? Try a raised bed or two, each no more than four feet wide--or two, if against a fence--so you can easily reach without climbing inside. Choose pole beans over bush beans for two reasons--you get more food per square foot, and pole beans keep producing for a longer season. You can grow quite a lot in a few raised beds if you succession plant, which means that when an early crop, like radishes or lettuce, comes out, you plant another crop in its place.

Have ample space? Don't bite off more than you can chew! Start with a few raised beds and add another next year if you are eager to grow more. Add fruit or nut trees, or perhaps you can grow soft fruit. Raspberries are one of my favorites for a large yard.

Seek out organic, heirloom seeds if you possibly can, and choose organic soils and amendments. If you care enough about your family's food to grow your own, you'll want the highest quality possible. Don't be lured in by hybrids bred for greater yields. Go for flavor and variety. You won't be sorry!

Most people consider a housekeeper the first domestic helper they'd hire. Others might add a nanny or a cook. Me? Those would be great, though this grandmother is not in need of a nanny these days. But what I'd really like is a gardener.

You may think I'd want him or her to tend the vegetables in my expansive plot, but you'd be wrong. Oh, I might complain there are too many mosquitoes, or it's too hot or too cold or too rainy, but that doesn't mean I want to pawn off the job on someone else.

No, I never seem to have time to tend my flowerbeds, though I'd love to have a riot of color out my kitchen window and along my sidewalk. I crave a patio surrounding a fountain, itself hugged by happy blooms of various shapes, sizes, and hues. But when I have time, it's the vegetable garden that demands my attention.

Anyone got a landscape gardener to loan me? I'll be happy to provide fresh, flavorful meals as payment! Apply in comments below.

Valerie Comer is a fiction author and a blogger where food meets faith. She and her husband of over 30 years farm, garden, and keep bees on a small farm in Western Canada, where they grow much of their own food, preserving vast amounts of it by canning, freezing, and dehydrating. She believes taking good care of both the planet and her family is an act of worship and thankfulness to God the Creator. Valerie writes contemporary romantic fiction (such as Rainbow's End –Barbour, 2012) as a natural offshoot of her passion for local food. To find out more, visit her , subscribe to her blog, or join her newsletter list.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Gorgeous Blooming Gerbera Daisies!

Linda Rodante
My friend Linda Rodante wanted to share some of her sister's flower gardening experiences with the Bloomfield Garden Club, and I thought everyone else would enjoy this as well.

Here's what Linda has to say:

Big, beautiful blooms. That’s what you get with gerbera daisies. They come from the sunflower family, and are often called the African Daisy because they are found naturally there, as well as in South America, and Asia. 

The large splashes of color range from yellow, orange, white, pink or red. Hybrid varieties may have purples and salmons.

My sister with the green thumb says gerbera daisies are easy to grow. Of course. (Picture smiley face here.) Here are her words of advice: Put them in a sunny spot and make sure they have good drainage and, wah-la, gorgeous flowers. 

More precisely, here’s what you need to do: Grab a nice size container (6-8 inches across), potting soil, and some gravel. Fill the container about ¾ full with soil and gravel, and put a few seeds inside near the middle. Next, cover them with about one inch of potting soil. Pat it down and put it in the sun. Remember to water it, but not too much. Never leave water in the bottom tray if you put a tray or dish under your flower pots.

If you use a small pot, transplant seedlings as soon as the first leaves appear. Seedlings can be grown in small pots until they are large enough to transplant into flower beds or larger pots. Enjoy.

Visit Linda's blog: Linda Rodante

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

I want to wish everyone - married couples, dating couples, those who are "just friends," and singles - a very happy Valentine's Day! If you have plans to go out for a special dinner, take a few minutes to brush up on your etiquette.

Here are tips:
Table Manners and Dining Etiquette
Dealing with Mealtime Mishaps
Proper Utensil Use
Tipping Etiquette
Cell Phone Etiquette

Tips for the guys who want to make a good impression:
Men's Grooming
Restaurant Manners
Holding Doors
Holding Chairs

Monday, February 11, 2013

Bzz Agent Info

After I posted a comment about an upcoming Bzz Agent campaign on Facebook, I received a bunch of private messages and emails about how I became a Bzz agent. It's not hard. All you have to do is sign up, fill out a questionnaire, and they start sending you invitations to join campaigns. I've tried a wide variety of products, including cosmetics, nutritional supplements, household cleaners, air fresheners, side dishes, snack foods, coffees and teas. 

Here's a link for anyone who is interested in joining: Bzz Agent. After you get started, drop me a line and let me know what you think.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Conversations About Why I Like to Read and Write Romance Novels


I’ve been a published novelist since 2000. With the exception of one mystery written under my maiden name, Deborah Tisdale, and 3 women’s fiction novels coming out this year, most of my books have been classified as romance novels.

Why do I write romance? Because that’s one of the genres I enjoy reading. Here’s a sample of some of the conversations I’ve had with people who don’t understand.

Q: Don’t romance novels give readers an unrealistic expectation of real life? They are not based on reality.
A: No. Most readers of romance novels and other genres are intelligent people. They know they are reading fiction.

Q: Why do you choose romance over something more serious?
A: There are times when I need an escape, and I just want to be entertained.

Q: Since the romance genre promises happy endings, doesn’t it bother you to know how everything will turn out?
A: Skilled romance authors know how to take their readers on the hero and heroine’s journey, make them worry, and evoke emotion with the safety net that the genre dictates. As an author, I know that wrapping up a story with the promised ending isn’t easy.

Q: Do you ever read literary fiction?
A: Yes. I read across all genres, but I always come back to romance.

Q: I don’t think women should read romance. Doesn’t it bother you that those books create unrealistic expectations in real life?
A: Didn’t we already talk about that?

I get that not everyone loves…or even likes romance. That’s the beauty of having so many genres to choose from. You can peruse bookstores and choose mysteries, science fiction, westerns, romances, fantasy, or literary novels. Just don’t get so worked up over the fact that romance is still the single most popular genre in fiction.

Now go find a good book and enjoy it!

Monday, February 4, 2013

In the Garden with Joyce Routh

Joyce Routh beside one of her flower gardens
I know it may seem early to start thinking about spring gardening, but now is the time to start planning.

One of my friends and fellow readers, Joyce Routh, wanted to share some of her gardening experiences, so in honor of the Bloomfield Garden Club, here she is:

“I had a beautiful flower garden all summer on the back patio,” says Joyce. “For Mother's Day I purchased some bedding plants and a couple of large pots, and I planted various flowers and plants in them. My mom and I had red, yellow, orange, and green blooms all summer. We even had a potted rose bush.

Photos courtesy of Mike Routh

“Then not to be outdone, I purchased a large tub planter from Big Lots and filled it with dirt and planted cucumbers, and we had fresh cukes. I put a tomato cage over the pot and had the plant climb it.”

It sounds absolutely delightful, Joyce! And I love the pictures of all those gorgeous flowers! Thank you for sharing!

I hope Joyce's story and these pictures will motivate you to beautify your yard this spring! Enjoy!